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Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis Hardcover – November 8, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

There have been many Marilyn Monroe photo books—but nothing like this.

Curator and photographic preservationist David Wills has amassed one of the world’s largest independent archives of original Marilyn Monroe photographs. Now, in Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, he has gathered spectacular, museum-quality work from Marilyn’s key photographers—Richard Avedon, George Barris, Cecil Beaton, Bernard of Hollywood, Andre de Dienes, Elliott Erwitt, Milton Greene, Philippe Halsman, Tom Kelley, Douglas Kirkland, Willy Rizzo, Sam Shaw, and many others—to create this dazzling portfolio of images from every period of Marilyn Monroe’s adult life, from her wedding day in 1942 till just weeks before her death two decades later. Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis pays homage to her continually evolving style and extraordinary beauty.

Among the highlights:

  • Previously unseen Kodachrome, dye transfer, and Carbro prints of Norma Jeane from her modeling career.
  • Classic portraits and pinups in luscious full color, digitally restored from the original transparencies.
  • Never-before-seen photos from the sets of The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, The Misfits, and Something’s Got to Give.
  • Rare candids of Marilyn with Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, and others.
  • Previously unpublished photos by Richard Avedon, George Barris, Cecil Beaton, David Conover, Elliott Erwitt, John Florea, Tom Kelley, Richard C. Miller, Frank Powolny, Willy Rizzo, Zinn Arthur, and many others.

Pairing more than two hundred first-generation photos with reflections on Marilyn from her friends, work associates, and admirers—and including her last interview, in which she reflects on her life and fame—Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis is an unforgettable showcase of the actress’s transformation from an unknown factory worker to one of the most recognized faces in history.

About the Author

Australian-born David Wills is an author, independent curator, photographic preservationist, and editor who has accrued one of the world's largest independent archives of original photographs, negatives, and transparencies. He has contributed material to many publications and museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Wills has produced a series of photography exhibitions based on images from his archive. His shows include Murder, Models, Madness: Photographs from the Motion Picture Blow-Up; Edie Sedgwick: Unseen Photographs of a Warhol Superstar; Blonde Bombshell; James Bond; Women with Issues: Photographs from the Motion Picture Valley of the Dolls; and Warhology.

Wills's books include Ara Gallant; Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis; Audrey: The 60s; Hollywood in Kodachrome; and Seventies Glamour. He is also the co-author of Veruschka.

His books and exhibitions have received major profiles in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, American Photo, Vogue, Interview, and Time. He has also written articles on photography and popular culture for publications including the Huffington Post, V Magazine, and Palm Springs Life.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006203619X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062036193
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9.2 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I just received advance copies of this book in the mail today, directly from the publisher, and only one word can be used to describe this portfolio: Stunning! This large coffee table book offers 285+ pages of photographs, comments from notable individuals connected to Marilyn, and quotes from the legend herself.

While the book is being touted as providing never-before-seen images of Marilyn, the die-hard Monroe aficionado will likely have seen most of the photographs of Marilyn contained in the book. However, even I came across several photos of Marilyn in Metamorphosis that I have never seen. Regardless of whether you've seen one or all of the photos of Marilyn in this book, I'll guarantee that what you've not seen are such high quality images of Monroe in any other photo book.

The coloring and definition of these portraits are indeed the finest I've come across in any other publication. The resolution, clarity and richness of photographs in Metamorphosis are unsurpassed. In addition, the overall feel and look of this book is quite high, from the heavy paper used to the gold-toned printing of the text. This book is a rare "must have" for every Marilyn Monroe fan and collector.
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Format: Hardcover
Marilyn Monroe is one of the most enduring and widely seen images in the history of photography. This gorgeous new book will be a treasure to die hard Marilyn fans and the legions of newcomers that discover her each new generation. Many people have tried to analyze the strange hold Marilyn has had on people during her lifetime and way beyond her death and, obviously, the many photographs that cover the course of her life are a huge part of her lasting allure. But over the years the photos have been printed and reprinted--scanned and resized. So much so that many of the shots reproduced on posters, in books, on the internet and everywhere else, have lost much of the original detail and true colors. The magnificence of this book is that David Wills painstakingly restored them to the way the photographer and model originally intended them to be seen. The more familiar photos almost feel as if you are seeing them for the first time. The rarer shots are stunningly presented and it's like making an exciting discovery. With each turn of the page Marilyn is gloriously alive--popping off the page. In many of the photographs you feel as if you can reach out and touch the radiance of her translucent skin.

The theme of the book is chronicling the many looks Marilyn underwent through the years. Different hairstyles, wardrobe, makeup, various dress sizes--always preternaturally beautiful. But it also dispels the rumor that she was remodeled by plastic surgery. Some of the loveliest shots are her as a fresh-faced, reddish-brown-haired, very young, professional model. Even before her Hollywood transformation she had an undeniable glow. And to the very end she retained that extra special somethingness that can't be manufactured or duplicated.

The quality of this hard covered book is superb.
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Format: Hardcover
"Metamorphosis" is the ultimate tribute to the classic and timeless Marilyn Monroe. The public's fascination and obsession with Marilyn refuses to wane, as evidenced by the new Marilyn biographies that compete for space on crowded bookstore shelves, coupled with what seems like an unending discovery of unearthed Marilyn images that continue to grab headlines. Not to mention the millions of dollars her image and memorabilia commands in contemporary art galleries and auction houses.

To begin to maneuver through the mountains of mass media available on Monroe would seem like a challenging task. Luckily for us, author David Wills has done the homework and research and has presented the definitive Marilyn visual biography, in pictures (many previously unpublished) and words (by way of carefully selected quotes). For Marilyn aficionados and novices alike, "Metamorphosis" is a rare treat, the visual proof of her legend, and the most concise summary of what makes Marilyn so magical and haunting and seductive.

The book is sleekly designed, and its size and weight encourages you to find the nearest comfortable sofa and devote an entire afternoon to enjoying its contents, in order to savor every detail of each page. As has been remarked on other customer reviews here, the quality of the photographs is amazingly life-like, miraculously and meticulously restored to high-gloss loveliness, in both crisp b&w and a color which recalls the Technicolor fantasies of 1950's Hollywood movies.
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Format: Hardcover
In Metamorphosis, David Wills has brought us arguably the greatest collection of Marilyn photos to date from as early as 1942. He has worked tirelessly sourcing transparencies and contact sheets to bring together a history of Marilyn's life from the early 1940's to 1962. What is striking about the book is the quality of the prints as they've been processed using the most up to date technology giving them a sense of freshness and crisp newness with vibrant colors and life like clarity. David had access to 100s of files and found that the best of the images were the ones already chosen to be released at the time when they were first published and he felt that it was important to use these classic images that are now in some ways iconic, as they show Marilyn at her best. He felt it unnecessary to include shots that had been considered "out-takes," or that were slightly inferior. With this in mind he also thought about younger readers who don't have big collections of photos and are just discovering Marilyn with this book, which I would say easily replaces those published up until now and that are now out of print and hard to find. But there are some 'new' photos which have never been published in books before, so there's something for the die-hard fan to enjoy who has everything. When asked about her feelings regarding the millions of fans that followed her and supported her success, Marilyn said, "The least I can do is give them the best they can get from me. What's the good of drawing in the next breath if all you do is let it out and draw in another?" Indeed, as we see the proof here, Marilyn gave her best during a very short career.Read more ›
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